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Commission OKs cameras in cruisers

first_imgMore than 15 years after a post-Rodney King commission recommended installing cameras in police cars to guard against racial profiling, the LAPD is moving forward with a $5 million plan to place dashboard cameras in about 300 cars. After testing four systems, the Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to begin negotiating a contract with IBM Corp. The project is expected to start in the South Bureau and expand to patrol cars citywide by June 2008. The City Council still must approve the project. “It’s hopefully one significant way of addressing the challenge of trying to document factually whether allegations of racial profiling did or did not occur,” Police Commission President John Mack said. The neighboring Beverly Hills Police Department has been using dashboard-mounted cameras for about a decade, said Lt. Mitch McCann, spokesman for that agency. Last year, the department installed IBM cameras similar to those being considered by the LAPD. Beverly Hills officers initially resisted the cameras, McCann said, but have since learned to appreciate having their entire workday recorded because it usually clears them of allegations of wrongdoing. “It takes the bias out of things,” he said. “When you have a videotape … it is what it is.” McCann said allegations against officers are quickly dropped when would-be complainants learn an incident has been videotaped. “`Maybe I was confused,’ they say, or `Maybe it was a different agency,”‘ McCann said. But LAPD Commissioner Alan Skobin warned that cameras should not be considered a panacea. “While it’s important and we want to implement this citywide, it’s important for the public to understand that one angle does not tell the whole story,” he said, noting that he supports eventually using cameras attached to Tasers in order to capture views from the officer’s perspective. “Every system has pluses and minuses. On balance, this is the right choice.” [email protected] (818) 713-3741 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Each video camera will be mounted on a swivel with a 180-degree range and will have a mobile microphone capable of picking up voices outside the vehicle. Although the cameras can be turned on manually, officials say they will program them to be triggered by sirens, for example, or when the patrol car accelerates. A 2006 report found that the cameras – funded, in part, by a doubling of residential trash fees last year – could reduce the cost of processing complaints and other paperwork by $3 million. The cameras are backed by the police union and civil-rights activists alike, who say they will help track police activity – a mandate of the federal consent decree imposed after serious misconduct was uncovered at the Rampart station in the late 1990s. “We believe the cameras will serve to protect us from frivolous and unwarranted complaints,” said Bob Baker, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. last_img

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